Key Battles of American History
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Key Battles of American History

James Early
War has played a key role in the history of the United States from the nation’s founding right down to the present. Wars made the U. S. independent, kept it together, increased its size, and established it as a global superpower. Understanding America’s wars is essential for understanding American history. In the Key Battles of American History, host James Early discusses American history through the lens of the most important battles of America’s wars. James is an Adjunct Professor of History at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX. He has published one book and two scholarly articles. He is also the cohost (with Scott Rank) of the Presidential Fight Club, Key Battles of the Civil War, Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, and Key Battles of World War I podcasts.
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Bombing Hitler's Hometown with Mike Croissant
May 22, 2024 - 47 min
On April 25, 1945, the U. S. 15th Air Force conducted the final major bombing run of an Axis-controlled city. The target was Linz, Austria. Linz was one of Nazi Germany's most vital assets. Not only was it a crucial transportation hub and communications center, it was also claimed by Hitler as his home town.  Linz was also heavily defended, making the raid hell for the American air crews.  In this special episode, James interviews Mike Croissant, author of Bombing Hitler's Hometown, the exciting story of the April 25 bombing raid on Linz.
Masters of the Air Episode 2
May 18, 2024 - 38 min
Sean and James continue their discussion of Masters of the Air, this time reviewing Part 2, in which the 100th copes with its first combat losses. At a pub, RAF members challenge the American tactic of daytime raids; feeling disrespected, Lieutenant (Lt.) Curtis Biddick defeats a British pilot in a bare-knuckle boxing match. When Major Marvin Bowman is incapacitated by illness, Major Cleven is tasked with leading the 100th on their second mission: bombing German U-boat pens in Norway. Lt. Harry Crosby, despite airsickness, successfully navigates the mission. Lt. Biddick's B-17 is damaged; the other planes reduce airspeed to stay with Biddick's, which makes a controlled landing without power in Scotland.
The Battleship Texas with Sean McIver (Part 2)
May 15, 2024 - 52 min
In this episode, Sean and James discuss the Battleship Texas’ service in World War II, its brief postwar service, its conversion to a museum ship, and the many efforts to refurbish it and keep it alive.
Masters of the Air Episode 1
May 11, 2024 - 86 min
In this episode, Sean and James discuss the initial episode of the recently-released Apple TV+ series, Masters of the Air, which tells the story of the 100th Bomb Group, part of the Eighth Air Force that bombed Germany during World War II. In June 1943, the 100th, comprising four squadrons of B-17s from RAF base Thorpe Abbots, is sent on a daytime bombing mission to destroy targets in Bremen, Germany. Despite the use of the advanced Norden Bombsight the bombardiers are unable to confirm the targets due to heavy cloud cover, and the mission is aborted. The 100th is forced to fly through heavy anti-aircraft fire, and is then attacked by German fighter pilots. The failed mission results in the loss of three B-17s and thirty men, while the 100th commanding officer is relieved of command due to illness.
The Battleship Texas with Sean McIver (Part 1)
May 8, 2024 - 48 min
In this two-part topical episode, Sean McIver returns to the podcast!  Sean and James discuss the origin of modern battleships, the history-making introduction of the HMS Dreadnought, the first ships called Texas, and the modern USS Texas’ service prior to World War II.
G13: Epilogue to Guadalcanal
May 1, 2024 - 56 min
In this epilogue to the Guadalcanal series, Dave and James discuss the human and material costs of the battle for Guadalcanal.  They also evaluate the performance of both sides and the short-and long-term significance of the campaign.
The Thin Red Line (with Steve Guerra)
April 27, 2024 - 74 min
During a war, combatants often ponder the deep existential questions of life. These questions form the basis of Terence Malick’s 1998 war drama The Thin Red Line. On one level, The Thin Red Line is about a U. S. Army division’s attempt to take a hill on the island of Guadalcanal; however, the film also explores many age-old questions, including “How did evil enter the world?”, “Why are humans at war with nature?”, “Why do humans fight and kill each other?”, and “Given all the evil and suffering in the world, how can there be a loving creator?” Join James and Steve Guerra as they discuss this intellectually and emotionally deep film. Note: this episode originally appeared on Steve’s Podcast Beyond the Big Screen.
G12: The Final Offensive and Operation KE
April 24, 2024 - 57 min
In January 1943, American forces began slowly but surely pushing west as the Japanese mounted an effort to deceive the Americans into thinking another major offensive was coming.  In reality, the Japanese were executing Operation KE, a plan to retreat westward and evacuate all survivors from Guadalcanal. In early February, American forces reached the northwestern tip of the island, only to find that the main body of the Japanese army was gone.  The Guadalcanal Campaign was over.  In this final regular episode of the series, Dave and James narrate the exciting finish to the 6-month struggle for Guadalcanal.
Guadalcanal Diary
April 20, 2024 - 58 min
In this episode, Dave and James discuss the 1943 World War II war film Guadalcanal Diary, directed by Lewis Seiler. The film is based on the book of the same name by Richard Tregaskis. The film recounts the fight of the United States Marines in the Guadalcanal Campaign, which occurred only a year before the movie's release. While the film has notable battle scenes, its primary focus is on the characters and back stories of the Marines.
G11: The Battle of Tassafaronga and the December Decision
April 17, 2024 - 49 min
In this episode, Dave and James discuss the Battle of Tassafaronga, the final major naval battle of the Guadalcanal Campaign. They also narrate the Americans’ November Matanikau offensive (yes, another one!) and the beginning of the final American ground offensive. Finally, your intrepid hosts discuss the Japanese December 1942 decision to…well, listen, and you will find out what!
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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
James is an Adjunct Professor of History at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX. He has published one book and two scholarly articles. He is also the cohost (with Scott Rank) of the Presidential Fight Club, Key Battles of the Civil War, Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, and Key Battles of World War I podcasts.
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